Boss of Jim's mowing writes open letter to 'arrogant' Dan Andrews over his lockdown extension

The owner of Jim’s Mowing has penned a fourth open letter to ‘arrogant’ Daniel Andrews, urging him to revise the state’s recovery plan or face having ‘blood on his hands’ for eroding the mental health of Victorians.  

Premier Andrews on Sunday announced the state’s strict lockdown would be extended by two weeks, with the earliest possible lessening of restrictions to come on September 13.

But David ‘Jim’ Penman, a self-made millionaire who founded Jim’s Mowing, believes the tough measures will put thousands of residents lives at risk, with 700 of his contractors battling with the stress of being out of work. 

David 'Jim' Penman, has written to Premier Dan Andrews four times urging the politician to loosen lockdown restrictions to permit more industries to work for the sake of Victorians' mental health

David ‘Jim’ Penman, has written to Premier Dan Andrews four times urging the politician to loosen lockdown restrictions to permit more industries to work for the sake of Victorians’ mental health

Appearing on Sunrise on Tuesday, the business owner slammed the Andrews government for imposing disproportionate rules which he argues are doing more harm to the public. 

‘It is absolutely appalling what he has done, there is no justification for it,’ he told  host Samantha Armytage. 

‘The Stage Four guidelines clearly show no danger to sole operators working alone.’ 

‘Some of my independent contractors can’t afford to eat and people have been threatened with eviction from their own homes. It’s just a hopeless situation and there is so much despair and misery out there.’

‘When you throw tens of thousands of people out of work without need you talk about mental health issue, suicide, drug addiction, child abuse, domestic violence and the rest.

‘There are a lot of very grim things. I know of independent contractors on suicide watch. People will die as a result of the Premier’s actions.’ 

Samantha Armytage agreed with Mr Penman's view that the Premier's coronavirus measures are too strict and detrimental for the public

Samantha Armytage agreed with Mr Penman’s view that the Premier’s coronavirus measures are too strict and detrimental for the public


David ‘Jim’ Penman founded Jim’s Mowing in 1982.

The company is a thriving business with 55 different divisions in both Australia and New Zealand, 4,000 franchisees and 35,000 customers per day. 

Mr Penman started the company after giving up his dream on becoming an academic.

He was studying his PhD in history at Latrobe University but he quickly realised his views were ‘far too radical’ for most universities.

His main interests lay with biohistory, but he also found that the subject wasn’t popular enough to warrant study grants.

Biohistory is the study of how a person’s environment and behaviour can leave ‘marks’ on our DNA that are then passed on to the the next generation.

So Mr Penman decided he would fund his own research, but never predicted that someday he would have the wealth to do so and more.

He was inspired to start something new after his first marriage collapsed, and mowing seemed like the obvious option.

‘I just started mowing lawns, working incredibly hard six days week and doing a great job,’ he told

‘Customers loved me and I got repeat work.’

Life hasn’t been perfect for Mr Penman, however.

He fired his own sister at one point and has not spoken to her since. Despite this, he doesn’t apologise for it and says it was purely a cold business decision that had to be made.

Mr Penman, who has been fighting with the government over the rules preventing cleaners and gardeners in from working during the second shutdown, has written four letters to the politician but is yet to receive a response. 

He said the guidelines are nonsensical as Victorian Council workers are permitted to  operate despite conducting similar maintenance tasks as his employees. 

‘It is outrageous. Council workers approached me and they said they cannot comprehend what is going on,’ he said.

‘They keep asking why? What’s the difference? We’re less danger to public health and they are. The workers told me, “Why can we work and you can’t?”.

‘Nobody can explain it. It is grossly unfair. It has just crushed our business.’ 

‘The premier is totally arrogant and totally uninterested in Victorians.’

When asked what he personally thought of the politician, Mr Penman unleashed a blistering spray. 

‘He is an utter incompetent. He has stuffed the quarantine, he is stuffing the contract tracing, he is stuffing the testing. The only thing he is good at is trashing the Victorian economy,’ he said. 

‘Especially industries like mine which are no threat to public health. He should absolutely step down.’ 

‘He is the worst political leader since federation.’

Samantha Armytage agreed with Mr Penman’s view that the Premier’s measures are draconian and detrimental to Victorians’ livelihoods. 

‘Keep up the good fight,’ Armytage told Mr Penman.

In an earlier segment, the Sunrise host condemned the chaos unfolding in Victoria amid the tight restrictions.

Discussing footage of a woman being threatened by police for sitting on a park bench, Armytage compared the state to China. 

‘What is this, China? You are getting arrested for filming things?’ she said.

‘Yes they were not meant to be sitting there under the rules. Who is making these rules? It is ridiculous.’ 

Armytage added that she refused to call Premier Daniel Andrews’ proposal out of coronavirus lockdown a ‘road map’.

‘Because road map suggests there is a plan and this is not necessarily a plan,’ she said on Tuesday morning.

‘We saw protests in Melbourne last weekend, there’s going to be more this weekend.

‘Victorians are sick to death of this and there is going to be civil disobedience.’

Melbourne has been in stage lockdown since August 2nd meaning residents can only leave the house for exercise, shopping, school and work, and caregiving. 

The city also has a home curfew from 8pm until 5am, while the rest of the state is remains under stage three restrictions.

The business owner told Sunrise hosts Samantha Armytage and Karl Stefanovic on Tuesday that Mr Andrews would have 'blood on his hands' if the state recovery plan is not fast tracked

The business owner told Sunrise hosts Samantha Armytage and Karl Stefanovic on Tuesday that Mr Andrews would have ‘blood on his hands’ if the state recovery plan is not fast tracked

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has been accused of destroying livelihoods

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has been accused of destroying livelihoods

Mr Andrews has come under widespread fire for his ‘road map’ to recovery from coronavirus restrictions, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison criticising the extreme proposal. 

Under the plan, lockdown will only end when there are an average of five cases per day, which is not expected until October 26.  

‘The plan that was outlined yesterday, I hope, is a worst-case scenario. I see it as a starting point in terms of how this issue will be managed in the weeks and months ahead in Victoria,’ Mr Morrison said on Monday.  

New South Wales has managed to remove lockdown and keep its economy going while suppressing cases to an average of less than 10 per day so far this month.

Mr Morrison noted that Sydney would be under lockdown if it followed Mr Andrews’ road map.

‘What I can’t help but be struck by is that, under the thresholds that have been set in that plan, Sydney would be under curfew now,’ he said.

‘Sydney doesn’t need to be under curfew now. They have a tracing capability that can deal with outbreaks.’

Victoria’s case numbers have rapidly declined over the past month after consecutive days of daily figures soaring in the hundreds.

The daily increase only fell below 100 ten days ago, on August 29, the first time since July 5.  

On Monday, the state recorded 41 new cases and nine deaths while NSW counted four, three of which were locally acquired and one in hotel quarantine. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Premier Dan Andrews for comment.  


Step one: The first step will come in to place on September 13.

Step two: The second step will be implemented when Melbourne has 30-50 COVID-19 cases a day on average over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on September 28. 

Step three: The move to step three will occur when there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on October 26.

Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23.

COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal. 

Step one – 11.59pm on September 13:

Curfew will be eased to 9pm-5am

People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)

Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours

 Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’ 

Childcare and early educators to remain closed

Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions

 Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption

 Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry 

– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only

– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect

– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping 

Step two – September 28:

Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households

Childcare and early educators can re-open

Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4 

 There will be an increase to permitted workplaces

Step three – October 26:

Curfew is no longer in place

There are no restrictions on leaving home

Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors

 A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another 

Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class

– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite 

 Work from home is encouraged

– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor

– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed

– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment

– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked 

Step four – November 23:

Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors

 Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time

 All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place

– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue

– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants

Step five – COVID normal:

Public gatherings have no restriction

 There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes

– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers

  Schools to reopen as normal

– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records 

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